Google’s new YouTube music service is here, but invite-only for now
The major players in the streaming music market are suddenly a quintet: Spotify, Pandora, Apple, Amazon and now Google.
YouTube announced the launch of its highly anticipated subscription music service on Wednesday, as well as an overhaul to how the site organizes and presents its collection of free music.
The subscription service, called YouTube Music Key, will be invite-only for the time being, with six months free followed by a promotional price of $7.99 per month. The regular price on its broad release will be $9.99, the same as Spotify. Google Play Music subscribers will also have access to Music Key.
YouTube’s service will operate in two parts: a new desktop and mobile-friendly system to listen to music for free and a subscription version that removes ads and allow users to listen offline. The subscription service will enable various mobile features including the ability to play YouTube music while sending texts or doing other activities on a phone and listen to music offline.
The subscription service is not yet public. It is set to begin an invite-only six-month beta test in the next couple weeks, with broader availability coming in early 2015.
YouTube’s new music homepage, however, is available on Wednesday on desktop and mobile, providing an idea of what the service will look like. One of the major steps is organizing YouTube’s disparate music into albums and playlists.
Later this week, Google will begin pushing out an update to the YouTube app on Android that will include many of these new music features. The subscription option is due next week. A similar update to the iOS YouTube app is set to come this week as well.
The addition of Google brings another major competitor into the already competitive online music market, which has come under fire recently by artists — most notably Taylor Swift — who have questioned the “freemium” business model. YouTube is already recognized as the biggest on-demand music streaming platform. Now, it’s looking to monetize that traffic.
The announcement comes just a day after news broke that YouTube had finalized the last major licensing deal it needed to operate its music service, having signed a deal with a company that represents a group of indie labels.
YouTube’s value is expected to come from its video, which is unmatched by its competitors, as well as the many live tracks and remixes uploaded to its platform. Combined with the Google Play library of more than 30 million songs, YouTube theoretically would have the deepest music collection of any service.
Source: JASON ABBRUZZESE